Life after Dresden is a rock opera

Cabaret punk diva Amanda Palmer is flying solo. She talks to Sarah Gooding

New York singer and pianist Amanda Palmer used to go by the name The Eight-Foot Bride.

She was a street performer, a "living statue", for five years. But after meeting drummer Brian Viglione at a Halloween party in 2000, the two formed the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls.

The duo earned a large international following with their quirky hits Girl Anachronism and Coin Operated Boy, but Palmer has since gone solo, and the band recently announced their indefinite hiatus.

The band's break-up was brought about in a way that can only reflect the changing technological times.

Viglione posted a comment on the page of a YouTube video in which the band was interviewed, saying, "The band is done. Over. Kaput. As I said in the video, we may very well play some shows together someday, but we are not forging ahead with the Dolls anymore."

Palmer responded by blogging: "I love making music with Brian Viglione way too much to imagine that we won't do it anymore. We speak music together perfectly; it's the rest that's hard."

Viglione's comments upset her, she says, but she was not surprised. "Brian's style can be impulsive, but so can mine. It didn't surprise me."

The band has broken up a few times when arguments have spiralled out of control, but with Palmer's solo career now finally taking off and her tour with performing quintet The Danger Ensemble a success, the split looks set to last - at least for a while.

Which also means she can finally dedicate herself fully to her solo venture. This year she released debut solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, and toured Europe.

Palmer and her 12-person strong tour entourage touches down in New Zealand on Tuesday, after playing three sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, which were more like rock operas than rock concerts.

Despite the melodrama and getting her foot run over on day two of her European tour, the singer and pianist has been "rocking it" on stage.

"It makes performing a little stiff, but it's not too bad."

She's even learning piano, and has just released a book of sheet music.

Her Ben Folds-produced album was a decade in the making, so naturally it was inspired in part by Viglione.

It's partly autobiographical, she says. "Everything's confabulated in Amanda-land. But I did have an abortion, and I did experience an icky date rape at one point. Luckily the two weren't connected."


LOWDOWN

Who: Ex-Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer with The Danger Ensemble
Where and when: The Studio, Auckland on March 10; Bodega Bar, Wellington on March 12

- NZ Herald

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